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More ways to hate the NCAA

Crossposted at SCSU Scholars.

As noted by Joanne Jacobs, some student-athletes in Florida are using private high schools to skirt eligibility rules for college football. Joanne calls it simply a diploma mill story, but it's much more rich than that. The NCAA has rules on course eligibility -- which courses count as college prep, and how many you must take to become eligible to play as a freshman in an NCAA-sanctioned intercollegiate event -- and rules for GPA and SAT or ACT score minima. However, it has some real peculiarities, one of which is that the higher one's GPA, the lower the SAT score required for eligibility. (See page 7 of this document fmi.) So what students are doing in Florida is shopping not for a degree per se but a place with enough grade inflation to raise their GPAs to match the SAT or ACT scores they've already earned.

For example, after Morley's junior year at Killian (a public high school --kb), a computer program used to project eligibility showed him graduating with about a 2.1 G.P.A., meaning he would need at least a 960 on the SAT. At University (private), he raised his average to 2.75, so his 720 SAT score was exactly what he needed to qualify.

The NCAA has frequently adjusted the schedule of GPA/SAT/ACT to meet whatever complaints are there, but I don't recall other stories where students were shopping for a GPA/SAT match by changing high schools. It certainly makes sense ... and it's the NCAA's own rules and their willingness to blatantly adjust them to be sure they don't miss any really good athletes that has led to this case.

This is only one of several examples. A colleague who's graduated from Cincinnati told me over lunch last week another weird example where an international student took ESL courses at a Miami high school, and his second and third courses counted but the first did not (I presume because it was not deemed preparatory for college.) And in this Ten for Tuesday article from SportsLine we find student-athletes who get suspended for not pulling out of the NBA draft properly, playing in an unsanctioned summer league, or this one which my friend from Cincy didn't mention:

6. Chadd Moore, Cincinnati: ...Moore, a senior guard who has been plagued by a bad back, quit the team for good last year -- or so he thought. After playing in a 2005 summer league, he felt so good that he decided to return this season. Not so fast. While the summer league was sanctioned -- he played alongside several UC teammates -- Moore hadn't sought the proper medical waiver from last year's medical hardship. Or something like that. Moore is missing the first five games, by which time I hope to understand the rationale behind his suspension.

Me too. This is only possible in a world where the NCAA continues to act as a monopolist that tries to sell a mythical vision of student-athletes.